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It is easy to show that the UK Government rarely conducts ‘evidence-based policymaking’, but not to describe a politically feasible use of evidence in Westminster politics. Rather, we need to understand developments from a policymaker’s perspective before we can offer advice to which they will pay attention. ‘Policy-based evidence’ (PBE) is a dramatic political slogan, not a way to promote pragmatic discussion. We need to do more than declare PBE if we seek to influence the relationship between evidence and policymaking. To produce more meaningful categories we need clearer criteria which take into account the need to combine evidence, values, and political judgement. To that end, I synthesise policy theories to identify the limits to the use of evidence in policy, and case studies of ‘families policies’ to show how governments use evidence politically.
Cairney, P. (2019). The UK government’s imaginative use of evidence to make policy. British Politics, 14(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-017-0068-2